Retaining Wall Failures and Remediation Steps

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Fire Pits

A retaining wall stabilizes sloped landscape designs and prevents soil erosion. However, retaining wall failures can occur due to various factors in Pennsylvania. This article delves into the common causes of hardscaping failures and outlines steps to remediate them while implementing measures to prevent future issues. Let’s get started. Common Causes of Retaining Wall Failures in Pennsylvania In Pennsylvania, retaining wall failures can be attributed to several common causes. Firstly, inadequate drainage is a prevalent issue. Poorly designed or clogged drainage systems can lead to a buildup of hydrostatic pressure behind the wall, exerting excessive force and compromising its stability. Schedule leaf removal in the fall to enjoy functional hardscapes in the spring. Often exacerbated by heavy rainfall and geological factors, soil erosion and settlement can weaken retaining walls over time. Engineering oversight can also make designs better suited to local conditions, increasing the risk of failure. Subpar materials or installation methods are another significant factor. Pennsylvania's varied weather conditions, including freezing temperatures in winter, can exacerbate this problem. Ask local professionals to build and help maintain retaining walls on your property. Why Retaining Walls Fail in PA Inadequate drainage behind the wall can lead to a buildup of hydrostatic pressure, but it’s not the only troubling factor. Inaccurate assessment of soil conditions and insufficient foundation preparation can also lead to settlement and instability in retaining walls. Here are a few other things to watch: Expertly built retaining walls help enhance curb appeal and keep your property safe

  • Inadequate Reinforcement
  • Freezing and Thawing Cycles
  • Vegetation Growth
  • Inadequate Construction Materials
Without proper reinforcement, retaining walls may not withstand the pressure exerted by the soil they control. In some cases, especially with taller walls, underpinning is crucial. Meanwhile, the harsh winter climate in Pennsylvania can cause the ground to expand and contract, exerting additional stress on retaining walls. Furthermore, the roots of trees and shrubs can infiltrate and disrupt the structural integrity of retaining walls. Invasive plant species can exacerbate this issue, so work with professional landscaping experts to determine the most durable mix. NOTE: Using low-quality or inappropriate materials for the site's specific conditions can lead to premature deterioration and failure. Steps to Remediate Failing Retaining Walls and Prevent Future Issues Begin with a thorough inspection by a qualified engineer or contractor. Identify the extent of the damage and the underlying causes. Based on the assessment, choose the appropriate remediation method. This could range from minor repairs to a complete reconstruction or redesign of your outdoor living spaces. Depending on the severity of the damage, consider reinforcing the existing wall with steel bars or installing geogrids. In some cases, a complete rebuild may be necessary, so discuss the issues with experts and develop a comprehensive plan. Stabilizing Retaining Wall Foundations Professionally installed and maintained retaining walls are a boon to your PA property Address any issues with the foundation, ensuring it is properly compacted and able to support the load of the retaining wall. Then, remove or relocate trees or plants that may cause damage to the retaining wall. Implement a landscaping strategy that complements the stability. When repairing or reconstructing the retaining wall, invest in durable, weather-resistant materials suited to the site's specific conditions. Remember to schedule regular inspections and maintenance to catch any issues early on. This includes checking for signs of settlement, cracks, or drainage problems. Consider adding features such as vegetation, mulch, or erosion control blankets to protect the soil and the integrity of the retaining wall. Conclusion Retaining wall failures in Pennsylvania can result from a combination of natural elements and human factors. However, with proper assessment, timely remediation, and proactive measures to prevent future issues, homeowners and builders can ensure the longevity and stability of these crucial structures. By understanding the common causes of retaining wall failures and taking appropriate remediation steps, PA homeowners can safeguard their investment and enjoy a resilient and functional retaining wall for years. Contact hardscaping experts in Cranberry Township and the surrounding area for a free quote.